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This Perfume Smells Like a Comet

Yum?

Perhaps it's best that this comet is billions of miles away from Earth. (ESA)
smithsonian.com

These days there are perfumes to satisfy anyone's sensibilities—gab a bottle of the a loved one's scent, dab on eau de apocalypse or huff babies’ heads. Now, a new perfume appeals to the space lover, capturing the aromatic scents of a comet, reports New Scientist’s Jacob Aron.

Perfumologists from The Aroma Company, a British company that specializes in what it calls “scent marketing technology,” have created a perfume modeled on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The European Space Agency, which commissioned the perfume, had a rocky rendezvous with the comet in 2014. The Philae lander was supposed to secure itself on the comet for a ride into deep space, but bounced instead. Despite the glitch, Philae was able to complete 80 percent of its scientific mission on the comet.

Now, Philae is billions of miles from Earth and out of touch with ESA scientists. But that doesn’t mean they can’t reminisce about the comet upon which the lander hitched a ride—or make creative use of the science that was done on 67P. As Aron reports, a chemical analysis of the data from the comet was used to craft a perfume that will be handed out at a summer science exhibition of The Royal Society in July. 

At first whiff, the idea of perfume made out of a celestial body is intriguing. A silvery chunk of stardust must smell delicious, right? Not so much. It turns out that the scent is pungent—Aron compares it to “rotten eggs, cat urine and bitter almonds.”

That’s due to the chemical composition of the comet. 2014 measurements indicated that the comet contained non-smelly substances like water, carbon monoxide and dioxide. But stinkier gases make up the comet, too: Think ammonia (an eye-watering substance that can also smell like urine), methane (hello, cow farts) and even sulfur dioxide (rotten eggs, anyone?). 

Eau de 67P may not smell that delicious, but what it lacks in appeal it makes up for in novelty. It’s not that often you get to smell like a celestial body.

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